Kids Make the Show in Methacton Community Theater’s SCROOGE! THE MUSICAL

by Kelly Thunstrom

Clark Van Hekken as Scrooge and Tegerty Ritchie as Tiny Tim in Methacton Community Theater’s SCROOGE! THE MUSICAL.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know the drill. Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly, miserable old man, is visited by three ghosts the night before Christmas (well, four, if you count his old partner). After Scrooge is made to take a long, hard look at his past, present, and future lives, he wakes up to find he’s changed.  Bob Cratchit, father of the sickly Tiny Tim and Scrooge’s employee, benefits greatly from this change.  Everyone lives happily ever after and Tiny Tim says “God bless us everyone!” I don’t think I’m giving anything away by rehashing the synopsis.

Charles Dickens’s A CHRISTMAS CAROL has been done a thousand different ways, with everyone from Disney, to the Muppets, to Jim Carrey doing some version of it.  Leslie Bricusse saw something in the Dickens play that would benefit from added music in SCROOGE! THE MUSICAL; however, Rodgers and Hammerstein he is not (one of the songs is called “I Hate People”). The performers of Methacton Community Theater, directed by Nicolette Addice, did an admirable job with not the greatest songs written for the stage. This is a large cast of all ages, with quite a few families, which was nice to see, representing what community theater is truly all about.

The Cratchit clan (Standing on chair: Tegerty Ritchie; Standing in rear (L to R): Cliff Reese, Leah Stern; Seated (L to R): Elizabeth Kirsch, Cecily Ritchie, Kacey Davis, Colleen Strohlein) in MCT’s SCROOGE! THE MUSICAL, running through November 18.

After a 15 minute late start (not sure why), the show began with a strong opening from the company and beautiful sets (kudos to designer Mike Addice).  SCROOGE! THE MUSICAL has a tremendous amount of kids in the cast, who are all wonderful. You can clearly tell they want to be nowhere else and sing their hearts out. I love to see children get involved in the arts because you never know when you might be seeing the next Broadway star.

Clark Ven Hekken, no stranger to the stage, plays Scrooge as he should be played. I would love to see him do this role in A CHRISTMAS CAROL without music. As I said before, he does not have the greatest songs to work with and many of his solo songs do not have much melody. Bob Cratchit (Cliff Reese), Tiny Tim (Tegerty Ritchie), and the ghosts (Lauren Quigley, Gary Rantz, and Cassie McElwee) are all fine, with Rantz particularly strong in his Ghost of Christmas Present. I was waiting with baited breath to see how they would do the doorknocker scene with Jacob Marley (David Moyer), and it was really well done. However, the character of Jacob needs to be much more ghost-like and scary. Kevin Sullivan, playing both Harry and Young Ebenezer, has a nice voice, particularly in “You-You”.

(L to R) Zoe Müller, Andrew Vechy, Kevin Sullivan, Hannah Paczkowski, and Jess Corropolese in a scene from Methacton Community Theater’s SCROOGE! THE MUSICAL.

This production definitely would have benefited from more orchestra participants. Only two (out of five) were there on opening night, and they didn’t seem to be miked.

Despite these opening night snafus, you could tell these actors (especially the kids) love to perform.  It’s nice to see such spirit on the stage.

Book, Music, and Lyrics by Leslie Bricusse
Based on A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens
Directed by Nicolette Addice
November 9 – 18, 2012
Methacton Community Theater
Shannondell Performing Arts Center
10000 Shannondell Blvd.
Audubon, PA

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Kathryn Shelton November 14, 2012 - 8:15 pm

As this is a review and the author is certainly entitled to her opinion, I would not normally complain about it, but I feel that I should as this review does a disservice to the community and the talented group that put on this performance.

I was a patron at the Saturday performance. I do agree that musically this is not a great show, and Mr. van Hekken did not appear to have the command of his voice musically but he went above and beyond in making me despise him one moment then crying with him later.

Speaking of crying, how many times in a musical do you cry, not many I am afraid. However, Mr. Reese as Bob Cratchit took me there in the second act as he wept at the grave of his son.

I thought the ghosts were spot on and I appreciated Mr. Moyer’s quirkiness and humor. Miss Quigley is sure to be a rising ingenue and Mr. Rantz as the Ghost of Christmas Present has a voice I could listen to for days.

I think the biggest disservice is that the second act was amazing and part of that was due to a young man I had never seen in the community theater groups in this area. Mr. Ryan Godman took the character of Tom Jenkins to a place few leading men can. He was stellar in the “Milk of Human Kindness” but you can box that tenfold in what he did in the crowd scene in “Thank You Very Much”. One elderly woman behind me commented that “I would follow him home if I could”. Yes, I suppose I would too.

The other characters were good and the large did work well together. The one dance scene was fun to watch. The one complaint I had and actually feel guilty conveying is that I thought the young child who played Tiny Tim did not fully embrace his character. Perhaps it was a little much for such a young child to take on, the lines often sounded a bit fake and the accent went in and out but she did do a good job on her song. The sets were huge and beautiful. I was surprised at the size of the stage crew moving things around.

I am not sure of the delay in starting the performance, but we did get a bit lost finding Shannondell and arrived at the shuttle with 5 minutes until curtain. The kind gentleman assured us that they wait for the last shuttle to return to the theater and patrons in their seats prior to starting.

So please, start your holiday season early with this fine treat from Methacton Community Theater.

Clark Van Hekken November 15, 2012 - 12:01 pm

Tiny Tim was played by a young MALE actor. Sorry, I didn’t have command of my singing voice during the performance you attended. I think I did alright on Sunday even with the beginnings of a cold but I hope to do better this coming weekend.

Nicolette Addice November 14, 2012 - 8:51 pm

Dear Kathryn,

Thank you so much for your kind words.
The cast and crew have worked extremely hard on this production and your response is exactly the one that we were hoping for.

I will be passing your message along to them, which I’m sure will lift their spirits immensely.

Thank you again!
Director of MCT’s Scrooge!

Truth November 15, 2012 - 12:24 am

Coincidentally this response is filling some of the holes and sentiments expressed by some of those running the show before the Kelly Thumstrom review.

I see paragraph after paragraph of positive coments from Kelly. Some, as many reviews go, don’t give the nod to all (example, space concerns and integrity) for many of their own reasons.

Truth November 15, 2012 - 12:28 am

“your response is exactly the one that we were hoping for.”

Coincidentally this response is filling some of the holes and sentiments expressed by some of those running the show before the Kelly Thumstrom review.

I see paragraph after paragraph of positive coments from Kelly. Some, as many reviews go, don’t give the nod to all (example, space concerns and integrity) for many of their own reasons.

Truth November 15, 2012 - 12:53 am

Don’t request a review for your Musical if you cant face the Music.

Jack Shawes November 15, 2012 - 7:34 am

If you can comment something nice, don’t comment anything at all.

A review can be positive or negative, that’s never the point. A review should also have concrete facts, not speculation, “After a 15 minute late start (not sure why)…” Why leave that up as if it was a delay at the hands of the cast and crew when it was the theater’s responsibility to make sure everyone who was going to attend got to see the show start on time? I was in attendance, and I knew why they started late. Also, if there’s going to be a review, review the entire show. It seems that the reviewer didn’t stay to see the second ACT as nothing of it was even mentioned, the last thing she mentions is the song “You….you” which is in the first act. Nothing of the all male song that was the Milk of Human Kindess(a very nice way to get the act going, btw), no mention of Thank You Very Much, an important seen in the change of Scrooges miserly mentality, not even a mention of how the show closed. Was it good, ok, poor, awful? Doesnt that matter in a review? Even if it were negative, at least it would have been said and i guarantee you no tear would have been shed. Constructive criticism never hurt anyone.

And space concerns? Really? Its the internet…there’s always space to add something. While we on concerns, let’s look at yourself here “Truth” and reassess the word integrity(cowardly posting anonymously on a website).

When she replies “your response is exactly the one that we were hoping for”, its not a knock on the reviewer at all. Shows are done for people who want to come be entertained, reviewers go to shows to review, sometimes they enjoy them sometimes they don’t. So to get a genuine response from an audience member who was there on their own desire is important to the cast and crew. It being a positive one is only a bonus.

If little old ladies could use the internet more, I’m sure there’d be a few more positive responses too. All in all, a pretty good show. Better than the review lets on at least.

Truth November 15, 2012 - 8:58 am

Your post is not 100% nice, so you contradict yourself. It has all the fingerprints of internal affiliation. Had the review been negative, obviously there would have been similar grumbling posts with the same interest. Is that too much speculation for you, or can you wear the truth?

Jack Shawes November 15, 2012 - 9:34 am

The speculation is merely to why you chose to misconstrue: “your response is exactly the one that we were hoping for.” Without taking a moment to think about it, you, having nothing better to do at 12:24am(?), took it upon yourself to call out someone who was simply showing appreciation to a kind review. Why you thought it was a slight at the site’s reviewer is confusing, perhaps you drank some bad milk before you laid down in bed with your laptop. Contradiction? Are you saying I wasn’t nice to you? 🙁 I need no reason to be nice to a person who still hides behind their monitor. It’s called cyberbullying…you’re quite good at it.

The real concern here is what your grudge is with this group?

Internal Affiliation?
A couple are invited to a show to watch a friend of theirs perform, sees the review posted on FB, and the man wishes to put his opinion on the website…so yes, I suppose that would technically make it internal affiliation. Regardless, my opinion was honest and my concern for the lack of depth in the “review” is quite legitimate. You, Truth, still fail to offer up anything valuable besides petulant whining. I suppose people like Kathryn Shelton and Annalee Jennis aren’t aloud to offer their opinion either, because they probably know someone in the show too(probably not though), thus giving them internal affiliation, and therefore discrediting their opinion completely in your eyes…

Whatever it is you’re trying to get across is confusing and misguided.

Truth November 15, 2012 - 10:45 am

We are all entitled to our opinion and that includes me.

Jack Shawes November 15, 2012 - 1:48 pm

I have no idea what Guy Fieri has to do with you attack on someone thanking them for their compliment? Nor does Emily Dickenson have anything to do with any of this….

Evan Blazo November 15, 2012 - 10:42 am

I must disagree with you on this one. Everybody knows how much people put into a show and this review seems to have no effort put into it. If I was a member of the production team like Ms. Addice or an actor I would also feel very disappointed after reading this. There were many high points of the show that were blatantly ignored and this sounds like a review from somebody who had something they would much rather be doing on Friday night

Jack Shawes November 15, 2012 - 10:56 am

True, we are all entitled to our opinion. However you had no opinion, only accusations. If you thought the show was bad, you are free to say. Yet you did not. You probably didn’t even see the show Truth. Did you not get cast by this group before? Are you from some rival community theater set on a grudge to show all other community groups that YOU are the end all be all of cyberspace criticism? Bravo if you are. That puts the grand total to 1.

Offer an opinion, you can be entitled to it. Attacking people for thanking someone else is not an opinion, speculation is not an opinion, cowardice behind a faceless-false identity is NOT an opinion.

that guy November 14, 2012 - 9:10 pm

The show started late due to a shuttle still transporting people, just so you know.

that girl November 15, 2012 - 10:48 am

Thank you for your elaboration. <3

Annalee Jennis November 14, 2012 - 10:06 pm

A few weeks ago while running errands I came across a poster for this performace at a Dunkin Donuts. I did plenty of theater performances as a little girl and I knew immediately that Scrooge would be a great way to get me in the Holiday spirit. I saw the Sunday matinee of this show and I must agree with Kathryn. I was most shocked when reading this review that the young man who played Tom Jenkins and the young lady who played Isabelle were not mentioned in this review! Tom Jenkins embraced this part and really stole the spotlight during Thank You Very Much. Isabelle had an absolutely darling voice and the scene where she left Ebenezer brought tears to my eyes.

At the beginning of the show an announcement was made that different actors would be portraying Harry/Young Ebenezer and The Ghost of Christmas Present. I am not sure how prepared these actors were for these roles but I never would have guessed that they were not playing the parts they were originally casted in! Both men had lovely voices and You…You gave me the chills

My favorite scene in the show had to be the opening scene to Act 2 (unfortunately I have misplaced my program so I do not quite remember the name of the song). It was a great way to showcase the massive amounts of male talent this show has and you can tell that the actors were having a great time.

I am hoping the talent in this show realizes how much I truly enjoyed this show and I look forward to seeing future MCT productions.

Terry Two Times November 15, 2012 - 2:06 pm

I saw Ms. Thunstrom’s review and felt compelled to put my two cents’ worth in. I must say that I was very disappointed in her review. First, at the fact that it was posted so late after reviewing the show, and second, because I feel that she must have dozed off after intermission, because she clearly missed many great moments. I have seen MCT’s shows in the past and have always been delighted.

I actually saw the show twice this past weekend; on Friday night, and then again on Sunday. My plans for Friday evening fell through and I figured I would go check it out since I love any shows having to do with Christmas. I saw it with friends again on Sunday, and the cast did an even better job than on Friday!

Ms. Addice did an amazing job directing this show! To harness the talent of these children the way you did, you should be very proud. Looking over the program and the bios, I was surprised to see that for many of the children, it was their first production or first time in a lead role. Bravo to all of them – I never would have guessed!

To address the issue of starting late, it was because of the shuttles. I was in the lobby when I heard someone from the box office talking about it. These things happen, and are not the fault of the cast. They are simply trying to get as many guests in there before the show starts.

Now, about the show. The opening was very inspiring, with all the different songs being sung at the same time. I had a hard time keeping my emotions in check, it was that lovely. Mr. Van Hekken was perfectly cast as Scrooge, and I loved the photo in the newspaper of him and the little boy who played Tiny Tim. The Cratchit Family played their scenes very well, and I especially enjoyed the scenes with Mr. Cratchit and Kathy and Tiny Tim, who is absolutely adorable! He made me cry when he sang his song standing on the chair and also during the graveyard scene. Mr. Reese, who plays Bob Cratchit, did an excellent job conveying his emotions, joyous or sad.

Mr. Moyer, who played Jacob Marley, was positively frightful, and fun to watch. Kudos to the makeup artist! The other ghosts did a fine job, as well, and their songs were well done, especially that of Ms. Quigley. She too, made me cry.

I was very impressed with Ryan Godman, who played Tom Jenkins. He really stepped into his role and I loved how he used his accent. Now when I hear someone say, “Thank you very much,” I will hear his voice in my head singing that song – a great job, Mr. Godman!

And the beautiful Isabel, played by Jessica Corropolese. She has an amazing voice, and I hope she continues in theater.

There was a change-up in actors for the Sunday show for the men who played Harry/Young Ebenezer and the Ghost of Christmas Present. Since I saw both shows, I think both actors did a fine job, and kudos to Mr. Rantz for playing both parts.
I love how the second act opened with “Milk of Human Kindness” and I laughed hysterically at these “drunken men.” Cheers to all of them! Well done!

The cast at large seemed to work extremely well together. I liked that there were all ages involved, and the Minister’s Cat scene was impressive.

One of my favorite parts of the show was Scrooge’s turnaround, and his demeanor after seeing Tiny Tim’s tombstone, and then his own. Mr. Van Hekken was a pro at the transition, and I expected nothing less of him given the other shows in which I have seen him.

The backdrops were beautiful and the set design was stunning. Mr. Ken Brown made the most of the orchestra, as always. The sound effects and lighting were well done, too.

So I say to the cast and crew, you have everything to be proud of. You did an amazing job! Break a leg for your last three shows!

For anyone who plans to attend this weekend, get there early to get a good seat! And bring your tissues!

Clark Van Hekken November 15, 2012 - 3:56 pm

Thank You ! I needed that ego boost!
Clark Van Hekken (aka: Scrooge)

Dickie Dunn November 15, 2012 - 2:13 pm

Having seen many shows at Methacton and other local community theaters, there are going to be good nights and bad nights. Nobody is perfect. I think it is perfectly appropriate to point out imperfect performances and be honest about them.

I attended the opening show and felt it wasn’t the best possible performance but many opening nights are not perfect. A couple of actors forgot lines and some of the lyrics to songs…that wasn’t pointed out in this review.

I do think Methacton should inform the audience if there is a late start — that is common courtesy if there is an issue. Use the time to tell the crowd about the next show, apologize for the delay, and provide some sort of communication. Don’t leave the audience hanging.

Reviews should not be all sunshine and lollipops if the show was not perfect and I appreciate the sacrifice and time commitment that goes into putting on a show. I think Kelly does a good job of pointing out the positives — the set was awesome, the kids were enthusiastic, and the show did improve as the evening wore on. I think some “critics” of the critique should read the review again before passing judgment.

Patricia Bradford
Patricia Bradford November 15, 2012 - 8:36 pm

Theatre is designed to get people talking and it’s good to see that we are facilitating that! All comments are welcome! Just want to address one of the comments that faults Ms. Thunstrom for the review being published “late”. STAGE publishes all reviews by the Thursday following the performance. Oftentimes we publish well before that date, but that is the date we have communicated to our subscribing theatres as our publish date. Thanks to all for participating in the dialogue!

Nicolette Addice November 16, 2012 - 11:42 am

Alright, that is quite enough!
Conflicting opinions are fine, and I am glad that so many people feel strongly about the show, but when you begin insulting people and making inappropriate comments, it has gone too far.
I ask that you please remember that there are children involved in this show who are reading these comments. They don’t need to witness this kind of language or behavior.
Please be respectful in your disagreement and, if that is not possible, please refrain from commenting.

Thank you.

Kathryn Shelton November 17, 2012 - 10:22 am

Wow, I certainly did not expect all these responses. Internal influence? Well, the only internal influence on my part is that I have indeed seen MCT shows before. For the record, I am a retired school teacher who moved down to PA to be closer to my daughter and her family. Two years ago, I joined a weekly book club and met another retired teacher and now almost every Saturday we meet for an early dinner and decide on a show to see that evening. We are both Dickens fans so choosing to see Scrooge was an easy one. In the review there was some statements that I did agree on, but I felt strongly that if we were choosing to go to a show this weekend and saw this review, we might have looked at something else. I had such an enjoyable evening and I felt that the cast and the public that reads these reviews needed to know that.

Was the show I saw technically perfect? No, it was not, but it did not need to be. My friend and I enjoyed it. Isn’t that the point of any community theater?

Truth November 17, 2012 - 12:44 pm

I’m not sold on the outsider pitch. We need to be respectful of what we write (leading one maybe to convince all previous flights were below 200ft.) and wear because there are children around.


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